Growing interest in New Zealand's only sake brewery
New Zealand's first sake brewery is getting nationwide interest from its Queenstown base.
After a year in business Zenkuro's handcrafted sake brewery now supplies to four local restaurants with more Auckland restaurants and souvenir branches lined up.
Three kiwi men, Craig McLachlan, Richard Ryall and brewer David Joll, teamed up with Japanese businessman and Canadian sake brewery owner Yoshi Kawamura, to start the business.
Ryall said the brewery had been "absolutely blown away" by the high demand for the sake, made of Californian rice and Southern Alps mountain water.
"Even souvenir shops want it, to sell to Japanese visitors to take home as a gift," he said.
Brewer Joll said he couldn't confirm the names of the souvenirs shops involved yet but said it was "potentially huge".
"The fact that people seem to like the sake and have a genuine interest in the product is really satisfying for all of us," Joll said.
The sake is produced with no waste.
The sediment left behind, kasu, is picked up by Queenstown Japanese community to produce cosmetics or for food.
It's the first time kasu has been available in this country and there has been high demand from Queenstown's Japanese population.
McLachlan said the brewery has been giving away kasu as a goodwill gesture and some Japanese women have started making cosmetics from it.
"Dave gets inundated with Japanese ladies every time he makes a brew," he said.
Zenkuro is considering launching a kasu soap line, which is on trial stage at the moment.
"It's quite common in Japan for brewery to have a side business supplying cosmetics," Joll said.
In the future, Zenkuro partners hope to see their sake served on Air New Zealand flights to Japan and to be exporting it.